Donatas "Donuts" Motiejunas, the Houston Rockets' only 7-footer, still remains unsigned. He is likely looking and waiting for someone to give him a decent deal so he can go back to the Rockets and see if they will match.
Last year before all the rehab and overcoming his back surgery, I am sure Motiejunas' eyes were as big as watermelons waiting for this offseason to get fat stacks of cash. He would have made big money too, as a stretch big who can play the four or five and decent defense he was looking at many tens of millions.
The Ryan Anderson payday of four years and $80 million maybe wouldn't have happened, but if Meyers Leonard can get $41 million, Donuts might have been looking at a payday somewhere north of there.
The big problem outside of his health was the way Detroit Pistons played with him. First, they traded for the big man, then a few days later, canceled the move over concerns of his back, pretty much killing any chance he had of making any sort of decent money this offseason.
RABBLE, RABBLE, RABBLE!!!!
After the trade with the Pistons failed, he came back to Houston and, after a little bit of an adjustment, he did show flashes of playing like the guy the Rockets thought was a key cog of their future. He wasn't all the way in pre-back-injury form, but damn he was close, diving on the ground for loose balls, taking charges, making sure the ball never stopped when he touched it. His shooting touch wasn't back to normal but, in my opinion, that was just because he was catching his steam as the year was coming to a close.
But what is Donuts' value? The simple answer is, his value is whatever someone is willing to pay him. The Brooklyn Nets seemingly have a ton of money to spend. Does that mean they try to throw lots of money his way because they have cash and they have to spend it?
One would be buying Donuts with a look to the future, because his 2015 was not full of greatness. He could very well be looking at a small contract in the range of two years and $10-15 million. It doesn't exactly sound small, but when he could have been making more than $40 million it is quite the fall from grace.
The best option for the 7-footer is to make a bet on himself in the same way teammate K.J. McDaniels did when he came into the league out of the draft. Rather than signing a normal rookie deal, he signed a one-year contract and the Rockets gave him a three year, $10 million contract after barely even touching the court a year later.
The parallels might not exactly be the same, but if the 7-footer takes the one-year, $3 million and change qualifying offer from the Rockets, then in 2016 becomes a go-to option in Mike D'Antoni's system, plays 82 games at an effective level, he can pretty much write his own check in next season's free agency.
If Donuts is healthy, D'Antoni's system will make him a star and fat stacks of cash. As Pringles said in his Rockets introduction: he has a history of getting guys paid. If Donuts is looking to find a contract valuing him at his 2014 level of play, he isn't going to find it this summer.
One year, $3 million doesn't offer much comfort, but four years, $50 million will help him sleep better at night. If he has a good year next season, that might be the bare minimum of what he's looking at.